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Short prose – Silver Girl

Updated Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Silver Girl is a short prose work by Katharine Marquis, written in a creative writing workshop run by the Blaenau Gwent REACH project at Aberbeeg Community Centre in spring 2020.

Silver Girl

By Katharine Marquis

Horse is lame, Squire, told ‘ee so. T’is that lad, Jack. Too much feed: touch of laminitis!

You’re sure John. That mare will have to be sold. Can’t harness a lame horse! Got customers to keep happy.

You be gittin’ rid of Jack afore yer touch Silver Girl: stable lads a plenty out there. She’s a good’un. Git that mare shipshape an’ cut the feed. She’ll sit between the shafts a couple more years an’ you got yourself a flippin’ good brood mare. She stands nice and square. An’ flat knees too. Billy Boy was cut a fortnight ago. Git him workin’ cos ‘ees shapin’ up fine. ‘ees a good mover. No dishin’. Nice ‘un. Git some muscle goin’. Tidy feet ‘n no crackin’.

I can’t get rid of Jack just like that. He’s an orphan. Depends on me.

Git him busy muckin’ out. Cleanin’ the carriage. Gittin’ the wood. ‘E’ll learn. Silver Girl just ain’t for sellin’! I goes before her does an’I ain’t goin’ nowheres soon!


Laminitis – Laminitis is a disease that can affect horses and cattle. Clinical signs include foot tenderness leading to lameness progressing to, amongst others, the inability to walk. Horses and ponies prone to laminitis should not be overfed or have too much grass.

Shafts – used to attach either a two wheeled cart or a four wheeled vehicle to a horse.

Brood mare – a mare kept for breeding purposes.

Cut – gelded.

Dishing – an unlevel and faulty movement of the forefeet.

Tidy feet ‘n no crackin’– while most hoof cracks are superficial horses can become lame due to deep hoof cracks that reach the sensitive inner structures of the foot.

About this work

Katharine’s short prose work, ‘Silver Girl’, takes us to the heart of the Valley’s agricultural heritage. Written in the form of a conversation, we have a poignant snapshot of the plight of a lame farm horse, Silver Girl, and the orphan lad Jack who looks after her, too well. Despite the brevity of the piece, the voices convey emotion and a moving commitment to both animal and boy.

The strength of the writing lies in its lack of narrative which allows the two speaking voices to come through so powerfully. Katharine’s use of dialect helps to characterise the speakers, allowing us to quickly assess and picture them. It also lends the piece a nostalgic tone, transporting the reader to an older time when the land was worked in a harmonious connection between man and beast, long since forgotten. Katharine’s information list is a useful accompaniment to the scene, allowing the modern-day reader a detailed and informative glimpse of a bygone age.

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This page is part of the Blaenau Gwent REACH online exhibition.

Film and audio | Creative writing | Visual art

Digital stories | The history of Blaenau Gwent | About this project


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